‘I have an unhealthy obsession with sheep,’ he admits. ‘It occupies many of my waking hours and haunts my dreams. I hate them.’His new book, Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding, sounds good even so. What he means by rewilding is not preserving or controlling ecosystems but leaving them alone, letting the animals and plants sort things out themselves. As Spectator reviewer Sam Leith puts it:
He dreams of letting forest re-establish itself where dismal ‘conservationists’ insist on maintaining the desert of heather-and-scrub that centuries of overgrazing have left us. He wants to see beavers plashing in our rivers, ospreys, wolves and (ideally) elephant wandering the Welsh hills and the Scottish highlands, if not the South Downs. He offers well-explained and meticulously evidenced reasons why rewilding large parts of the country could be both economically and ecologically advantageous. But he makes no bones about the deep reason he’s in favour: which is that it would be amazingly cool.